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by Lars Kotthoff

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Good day all. I was almost decided on Canon 70-300 USM IS (non L) but recently came to know about the Tamron version (SP AF 70-300 F/4-5.6 Di VC USD) of this one. Neither of these makes you a better photographer and the price is neck to neck as well. The Tamron version features a non rotating front element and full time manual focusing. Its VC is also slightly better reviewed than Canon IS. Sharpness is almost same. Color quality wise Tamron wins by margin, though it has CS issues. Tamron one is heavier and build quality is better.

I've found a few links which you can take a look.

Canon 70-300mm USM IS:

Review:

  1. http://www.the-digital-picture.com/reviews/canon-ef-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-is-usm-lens-review.aspx
  2. http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=294

Tamron 70-300mm USD VC:

Review and Sample Photos:

  1. http://www.aputure.com/blog/2010/09/10/new-tamron-70-300mm-vc-sample-photos/
  2. http://www.aputure.com/blog/2010/08/11/new-tamron-70-300mm-vc-lens-pre-review/

Side by Side Comparison:

  1. http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=958631

If you were given a 550D body and 500$ to buy a lens, which one of the above would you've bought?

And about type of photography I want to do, I was thinking birds mostly, but also anything good thats far enough! =) Auto focus is also reviewed as faster in Tamron considering the time it takes to focus from MFD to Infinity. Focus is acurate and with the help of FTM, you can fine tune as well. (after all its their anniversary lens!). Its slightly sharper than Canon beyond 200mm but also slightly softer than Canon below 200.

I dont know much about sharpness of other lenses (I do not own any L series lens) or what you guys call sharp, but you can take a look at this full size bird photos and let me know if they are sharp or not.

All photos taken using a Canon EOS 50D with the Tamron 70-300 attached, Aperture Priority mode, handheld with the VC system On. More pictures taken by Tamron 70-300 can be found in Here (flickr).

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8  
I think you've pretty done your homework and therefore basically answered your own question as much as it can be really answered. Beyond what you've said, the rest is just subjective opinion. –  mattdm Jan 12 '11 at 16:02
    
I too am having a similar dilemma, tamron 70-300 VC vs Canon 70-200 F4 L (non-IS) in my budget. Its tough as the IS can be great at the longer focal lengths in lower light to help prevent camera shake at slower shutter speeds. I would mainly wish to use this as an outdoor lens but in the UK outdoors light is not always the best. How does the sharpness/contrast/colours compare? –  Vicky Oct 11 '12 at 16:15
    
In India the price difference is almost double for canon so considering the almost same quality, I guess Tamron was the right choice for me :-) –  user22967 Oct 30 '13 at 10:20
    
I use a Tamron 70-300 lens with my Nikon D90 and I am very happy with it for the money I paid. The lens delivers sharp images, the stabilizer is what I would call good (you can actually see it work!), it is not bulky. –  Pavlo Dyban Oct 30 '13 at 14:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

What I'd probably do - and I don't suggest you follow it in this particular case - is get the Canon lens, given from your description that the lenses are a very close match. This is because I am (sadly) a lens snob... From reviews and other opinions I read through time I get the impression that the Canon (or Nikon for that matter) build quality tends to be better than the competition - or more correctly, it is more consistent. The chances of getting a good copy are greater with the Canon.

That's not to discourage you from trying both and if you get a good copy of the Tamron and feel that the build quality is better (as you mentioned in your question), then by all means get it.

As for the test images - compared to what I got used to see from photographers like Scott Bourne then no, they are far from being sharp. However, with the equipment that he uses you could buy a 50D+Tamron for each member of your family...

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well you should not compare it with the sharpest lens in the line. I've limited my choice within this two only, so Tamron's sharpness should be compared to Canon 70-300mm. Please note that, Tamrons 70-300 is on the top end of their products and Canons 70-300 is somewhere just above the bottom end. So, the question comes, if I should go for a low-ish end product of Canon or high end of Tamron. +1 for this line "with the equipment that he uses you could buy a 50D+Tamron for each member of your family" :D –  fahad.hasan Jan 12 '11 at 10:16

I was recently faced with the same dilemma. I needed a long lens for surf photography and animal shots (zoo with kids). I have a 7d, and wanted a decent lens.

My budget was not an issue. I was prepared to spend money for L glass. I spent three weeks reading every review on the net; I read all the pixel peepers comments, other pro's, and buyer reviews. After all my research it was evident that there was no perfect lens, and you can find negative reviews of even the highest critically praised L glass.

I ended up purchasing the tamron because of the full time manual focus (good for video), new usd, and effective image stabilization. Additionally, the reviews have been very strong.

The value is unbelievable, as I have now had time to use and enjoy lens. At the price of 399, nothing else even comes close.

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2  
well if budget wasn't an issue (which unfortunately is, for me) you should've gotten an L series telephoto prime. One thing I've learned about buying photo gears, in the end, you always get what you pay for. These ISO crops surely will tell you the story. the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/… –  fahad.hasan Jan 17 '11 at 5:34
    
@ShutterBug, to me, those comparisons maybe show a wash between the two lenses. And at the short (70mm) f/4 end, then it seems the Tamron comes out ahead. –  kenny May 6 '13 at 21:54

If price is the same, and both have all the features you want, I'd go for the Canon. Two reasons:

  • Lenses from third party manufacturers are reverse engineered. That means they buy a canon lens and try to figure out how the focusing system works on their own, without any specifications from Canon. They most certainly test their products good enough so that it's not a problem for current cameras. But you can't really be 100% sure if a 3rd party lens will work properly with future bodies.

  • I use Canon's post processing software DPP. They only have lens correction data for Canon lenses there. That's a factor for me, could be for you aswell?

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Reverse-engineered? Not really. Some of the lenses sold under the brand of Nikon are outsourced to Tamron, so that only the upper-budget lenses are still produced by Nikon itself. –  Pavlo Dyban Oct 30 '13 at 14:30

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